Am I Truly “Privileged” Just Because I’m White? A Story Of Oppression From A White Woman With A Severe Disability.

***Special note: I wrote this over a week ago but because I take this matter so seriously, I had some peers read over it.  I have edited this post a few times and have rewritten things.  I hope my love and my own story touches all who read this.***

I am in tears as I write this. I didn’t sleep very well last night due to someone I thought I knew and I thought he/she knew me calling me a “racist” for not jumping onboard with the Black Lives Matter movement.  I am also losing friends for this reason.

In my original post regarding the recent two police brutality cases and cop killings, I said that “all lives matter.”  You can find the link for the post and my follow-up post a little later in this post.  When I shared my “All Lives Matter” post on Facebook A.K.A. “Hatebook,” I came across a meme claiming that the phrase “all lives matter” was created by white supremacist groups in opposition to Black Lives Matter.  I should have known better and researched it before writing my follow-up post where I apologized but explained that I truly mean it when I say all lives matter.  But my emotions took over and I didn’t investigate it.

After calming down, my husband looked it up and discovered that “All Lives Matter” was NOT created by white supremacist groups!  He made the observation that wouldn’t white supremacists say, White Lives Matter?”  After all, they hate everyone who isn’t a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant — “WASP.”  Yes, we know them best for going after black people, but they hate everyone else too.  Sure enough, there is nothing to show that “all lives matter” is from a white supremacist group.  In fact, black people say it too.

“In the discussion surrounding “Black Lives Matter”, the slogan “All Lives Matter” is sometimes used as an alternative. Its supporters include Senator Tim Scott.  According to an August 2015 poll, 78% of likely American voters said the statement All Lives Matters was “close[r] to [their] own” than Black Lives Matter. Only 11% said the statement Black Lives Matter was closer. Nine percent said neither statement reflected their point of view” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Lives_Matter#.22All_Lives_Matter.22).

What’s even more interesting is that U.S. Senator Tim Scott is a black man!  As my husband and I further investigated this in order to be absolutely certain that the phrase has nothing to do with any white supremacist groups, we found the following article from the Washington Post  about a student that left a note on a professor’s door in the College of Law that read “All Lives Matter” which states the following:

“Then two members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights — speaking as individuals, not for the commission — wrote to the dean.

“The response of American University faculty and staff was nothing short of Orwellian,” Gail Heriot and Peter Kirsanow wrote, in part. They also wrote:

“Nearly sixty members of the law faculty and staff signed a letter calling this an ‘act of intolerance,’ because it refers to ‘all lives’ rather than only ‘black lives.’

This makes American University look foolish.

Even sillier, the letter calls this obviously true statement — that the lives of all members of the human species are valuable — ‘a rallying cry for many who espouse ideas of white supremacy.’

While we know that President Obama has stated that ‘all lives matter,’ we are not personally aware of any cases in which white supremacists (a rare species these days) have made that statement.

‘Equating a student making a legitimate and utterly unobjectionable point with a white supremacist is nonsensical.’

(Obama, in explaining why he does not think the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ is offensive and that he does not think the protesters are suggesting other people’s lives don’t matter, said in October, ‘I think everybody understands all lives matter’).

By phone, Heriot, a professor of law at the University of San Diego, said that when she saw the letter from the professors, ‘My reaction was that this was — quite outrageous. I just wish that people in positions of authority, like members of a law-school faculty, would try not to make things worse by engaging in name-calling of this kind.'”

If you Google “all lives matter,” the only thing you’ll see is people arguing about it and criticizing people who use the phrase.  SAD!!  An inclusive phrase being ripped apart.  Anyway, note to self: always research stuff before taking it as “fact” when you see it on Facebook.

I want to make it very clear that I support all black people. All my life I have been aware of how unfair the world can be by judging people by appearances in the way some whites will look at a person’s skin color and falsely and automatically assume bad things about them. But I just can’t support the group Black Lives Matter.  I don’t believe that they’re representatives of the race, and sadly, they are hurting race relations through their behavior.  Many black people do want peace and love.  They even peacefully protest.  However, Black Lives Matter seems to draw unstable radicals who cause a great deal of death and mayhem.  I also feel that Black Lives Matter dismisses other minority groups that have been oppressed and horribly treated throughout history and into the present.  What about the Jews and the Holocaust?  Recently anti-semitism has come back.  What about the Native Americans who were murdered and now live on reservations?

To understand where I stand with the recent police brutality cases and the cop killings, see here and here.

The reason why I am so upset that I was called a “racist” is because I clearly condemned all violence and all racism and bigotry in my posts!  Also, this person said that I have “white privilege.”  To be honest, I don’t feel like I have much “privilege” at all because my family and I have had to fight for everything I need and I am still fighting. My life, while blessed in comparison to many, is anything but easy.

Also, I have regular encounters of prejudice against me based on my severe disability.  Webster Dictionary defines the word “prejudice” as:

“1: injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one’s rights; especially : detriment to one’s legal rights or claims
2a (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge
b : an instance of such judgment or opinion
c : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prejudice).

Prejudice often leads to discrimination which Webster Dictionary defines as:

“1 a : the act of discriminating
b : the process by which two stimuli differing in some aspect are responded to differently
2: the quality or power of finely distinguishing
3a : the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually
b : prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment <racial discrimination>” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discrimination).

Sometimes we must make sure something is good by discriminating whether a fruit is fresh or not.  But when it comes to human beings, we need to stop being prejudiced and discriminatory based solely on their outward appearance.

And I have never understood why white people think they are better than others simply because they are white.  This problem with any and all people thinking they are supreme over others just confuses me.  Of course, it’s especially apparent with children.  Many adults of all races, ethnicities, and religions look down upon children and treat them as property.

And black people are rightly upset because throughout history other people have been prejudiced against them and have discriminated against them based solely on their skin color .  This ongoing prejudice and discrimination is SO WRONG!

However, before anyone calls someone like me a “racist,” you need to walk a mile…Oh wait, I can’t walk, so it’s more appropriate probably to say… Roll a mile on my wheels.  Let’s look at my reality for a moment since I have been looking at everyone else’s.

1. When I was born in 1981, I didn’t breathe for forty minutes.  The doctors wanted to give up on me, but my dad almost had to punch the doctor so they wouldn’t stop working on me.  It literally saved my life.  I am a miracle.

2.  Even after I was stabilized, the doctors still didn’t think I would live.  My parents kept fighting for the best medical care I could get.

3.  When my parents got me home and started raising me, they quickly saw that I wasn’t developing as a typical baby should.  I rolled over and army crawled but I couldn’t sit up, crawl, or walk.  I couldn’t always hold my head up in certain positions. I couldn’t control my arms and legs much.  My parents had to go from doctor to doctor to figure out what was “wrong” with me.  Finally at around 18 months, I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.  After the diagnosis, they said that I wouldn’t do much.

4.  I believe that some people looked at me and assumed I wouldn’t do much with my life and told my parents to just put me in a “special school” or just “put me away” as institutionalizing children and adults with disabilities was still happening in the 1980s.  Heck, it’s still happening today in many parts of the world.  Thankfully, my parents kept me and helped me to do the most I physically could such as hold my head up as much as I could, talk even though it was slurred, and use my hands a little.  They saw that I wanted to do stuff and helped me to do things.  They taught me that I could be like everyone else despite my severe cerebral palsy.

5.  My family was in the working class.  Both of my parents had to work to make ends meet, which meant fighting for all of the services and equipment that I needed that they couldn’t afford to provide for me.  I often heard them fighting the school district for a full-time aide to be with me at school to both help me physically with my schoolwork as well as take care of all of my physical needs at school.  They also had to fight the school to make sure I received the physical, occupational, and speech therapy that I needed.  

School officials would look at me and assume I wasn’t able to even be in the regular classrooms so I had to prove that I could be in a regular classroom instead of in the secluded special needs class.  In third grade I was finally mainstreamed into the regular classroom full time.  

Then my parents had to fight with my teachers to cut down some of my homework or give me extra time to get it done because it took me longer than typical children to do my homework either by dictating the answers to someone or to type it up when I taught myself to type with my nose at the age of nine.

My parents always had to fight to get me the adaptive equipment I needed such as wheelchairs, “potty” chairs, and bath chairs because the insurance companies never wanted to cover any of that stuff and it is very expensive.  All this fighting went on my entire childhood.  Nothing came easily for me!  

In eighth grade, my parents fought for me to get my first speech augmentation device.  Again, these are very expensive and insurance companies don’t cover these most of the time.

6.  Because everyone has always looked at me and assumed things about me, growing up, I never had more than a few good friends.  And sometimes others would make fun of me if they didn’t know me.  In junior high and high school, making friends was even harder because I wasn’t “cool” and couldn’t go out like everybody else did.  Boys– forget it.  My husband was the first and only serious relationship I’ve ever had!  Nobody wants to be with the “disabled girl.”

7.  Being in high school was even worse because on top of the friend and boyfriend situation, even my personal aide looked at me and assumed the worst about me. She told me that I would never go to college, get married, have the career I wanted, have children, and was destined to live in some group home. 

8.  Throughout my entire life I have always been the person with the most severe disability in pretty much every situation.  I am the “Guinea pig” because I was so physically disabled that teachers and others didn’t know how to deal with me.  But I always enjoyed proving people wrong.  I truly hope that I have helped pave the way for other people with disabilities to be successful.

9.  This means when I went to college, some of the professors had their doubts about me, assuming that, because of my appearance I couldn’t successfully complete the early childhood education program.  Again, I had to prove myself and work hard to be at the top of my class, which I did throughout college and graduate school.  I also had to prove that with the right help, I could work with children.  They quickly saw that the children warmed right up to me.

Now you might think I’m done with fighting since I am married, educated, and an author.  If so, you are absolutely wrong!  It’s been two and a half years since I graduated with highest honors from grad school and while fellow graduates of all races and ethnicities have their careers and families firmly established, no matter how hard I try, I haven’t been able to to break through closed doors in order to firmly establish my career so that my husband and I have income and can have a child before we get too old.

I can’t say if any of this is due to discrimination or not but obviously prejudice has played a major role.  I mean here’s what happens at my book signing events:

I just started noticing that some people do avoid me at my book events. As a teen, that was the way it was because I wasn’t “cool” and “like everybody else,” so only those who took the time to get to know me hung out with me. This was extremely difficult for me as a teenager.

I had thought it had gotten better in college and grad school because most were happy to talk with me. But since my book has come out, I’ve had a number of book signings in my area with only a couple people showing up.

At first, I thought it was because my book is about gentle, respectful parenting. Corporal punishment is so ingrained in our society, especially Christian society, that it can be very difficult to get people to see that God never intended for children to be spanked/hit.

But, after a recent book event where some people seemed to go out of their way to avoid me, it became obvious that it is more than just the content of my book. I’m sure there are other reasons why some people don’t approach me. I do feel, after being more in the public eye, some are afraid of me or intimidated by me.

How does this make me feel? I’m fighting back tears as I type this. It hurts. It makes me angry. It makes me sick.

Christians, I feel, should be the most accepting of me. Yet, at a Christian bookstore, Christians seemed to go out of their way to avoid me. But, God is using my disability for His GLORY! I am not being punished. My parents are not being punished. God needs me exactly how I am to do His work for Him which happens to be advocating for children, the least of these. Read John 9 for a better understanding of how God can and does use people with disabilities for His glory.

Please come talk to me. Ask me questions. I love talking with people. I love answering questions. My husband is always with me to help people understand me. Please don’t go out of your way to avoid me.

This is an excerpt from the interview I did with my friend on September 1, 2014.  Please click here to read the entire interview.

Why am I telling you all of this?  It’s definitely not to get pity!  I truly hate pity!  But I want people to understand, especially the people who call me “racist” and “privileged,” to see that I know hardship all too well.  I know what it feels like to have people look at me and decide things about me, negative things about me, just based on my outward appearance. While I don’t have to worry about being pulled over by a cop for no apparent reason just because I’m black and facing the subsequent possibility of being beaten or killed due to police brutality and/or racial prejudice, I know I will never know what it is like to be a black person.  But that’s where it ends because I’ve been called names, I get stared at, I get avoided, I’m not where I would be in my life if I wasn’t disabled.  Able-bodied people will never understand what it’s like to be disabled.  Believe it or not, people with mental disabilities were used in slavery.  If they weren’t useful, they were thrown away in institutions where care was not high quality at all.  Due to this, people with disabilities had shorter lifespans.

I don’t feel “privileged” because money is very tight for my husband and me.  We drive a 20-year-old van that is dying and unreliable but we can’t afford a new (to us) van that my wheelchair will fit in, and people had to pitch-in so we could afford to buy me a new wheelchair, for which I am very grateful!  I don’t get welfare or disability because for some reason we don’t qualify for it.  My husband stays home to care for me 24/7 as it is extremely difficult to get reliable help for me, which is why I work so hard to find my place in my field.  Nothing comes easy for me.

Yet, I feel like I have been crying out and protesting to the world that #peoplewithdisabiliteslivesmatter all my life through the way I’ve been living and fighting to prove people wrong. I feel that if I were to instead scream that “People with disabilities lives matter,” and complain about how bad people with disabilities have it that it wouldn’t show the world they’re wrong about me.  It would only turn people off.  It may even make some angry and not want to help or get involved.  It may even make unstable people want to hurt and murder us even more.

Children with disabilities are very likely to be abused.  I was abused!  Actions speak louder than words, and because people look at me and assume I have nothing to offer, I do my best to live my life in a manner that educates and inspires.  I’m almost finished with a children’s book about my cerebral palsy to educate children on how to treat people with disabilities with respect.  And I have done interviews with my friend to educate others about what life with cerebral palsy is like.

Another thing is that TV shows and movies rarely have people with severe disabilities on them. Usually it’s either someone with Down Syndrome, Autism, or a person in a wheelchair that has upper body control.  Every other minority group is regularly featured in tv shows and movies which is great!  But!  Finally, this fall on ABC, there will be a show with a boy with severe cerebral palsy!!

What’s even better is the boy actually has severe cerebral palsy!!  The show is called Speechless.  I cried for joy when I found this out much like black people must have when finally they were featured in TV shows and movies.  But wouldn’t you know it that some ignorant person already put down the show because it will “normalize” “the disabled” and not make us want to cure them.  Hate and ignorance is everywhere!

As excited as I am about the new show Speechless, it’s also important for me to point out that I don’t focus solely on advocating for cerebral palsy.  Anyone following me for any length of time knows that my passion is advocating for all children.  And when I do share things about disabilities, it’s about all types of disabilities.  I do not feel any disability is more important than the other.

No matter what your race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, gender, age, or disability, if you group people together and label them in a negative manner, that is wrong.  All are equal.  All matter!  All deserve to be heard!  All need a voice!  But let’s do it in a way that gets more people to listen and want to empathize.

So I do understand why blacks have had it with the fact that people will look no deeper than the color of their skin and assume incorrect things about them. Bad things. They will assume that they’re thieves, thugs, criminals, or worse based upon their skin color.  But the way to prove the world wrong about their assumptions isn’t by yelling, rioting, killing, beating, insulting, and destroying property. Such behavior only serves to reinforce the negative stereotypes and inaccurate assumptions about black people.

Love and peace is how we prove people’s assumptions about us wrong and enact change.

Here are a few songs on my mind lately:

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Why We Need To Change Our Perceptions

We all have different ways of perceiving people and life events. Some of our perceptions are accurate and factual. Others are based on preconceived notions and experiences. Some perceptions are good. Some are quite negative and downright harmful.

For example, a while back I watched a show where they researched how different people perceived certain groups of people.  I don’t remember all four groups that the majority of people put others into based on how they perceive them.  But, one group stood out to me as it hit close to home.

That group was called, “not dangerous, incompetent.”

Guess who was put into this group.

The disabled and the elderly.  Had children been a part of this research, I’m sure children also would have been placed into the group as well since the majority tends to perceived children as incompetent.

What is sad is I am severely physically disabled due to my cerebral palsy, and yet, I have a Master’s Degree.  Every day I must deal with people that perceive me as incompetent.  This is why I’m working on getting my first children’s book published to change the negative and inaccurate perceptions of having a disability.

The elderly are very competent!  They have years of wisdom even if their bodies won’t allow them to physically accomplish that which they once could.

And finally, children are extremely competent!  They are capable of so much more than we give them credit.  Yet, we never appreciate their abilities, but punish them for not being adults.

Thankfully, Jesus never liked how society perceived and viewed children.  He gives us a high command when it comes to children.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).
I believe that our society as a whole despises children. Children are the least respected people of our society.

They are murdered before they are born.

They are left to cry alone.

They are spanked/hit and publicly shamed.

People argue about their “right” to treat them however they want.

They are called horrible names.

The saddest thing about this is it’s Christians promoting much of this. Yet, Jesus is the One who elevated children’s societal status.

The way we view children is how they will behave. And when Christians perceive and view children as “sinners” and “manipulative,” they react and punish what they perceive as “defiance” when the child simply is trying to communicate with us.  That’s why Dobson’s (and others like him) view is so dangerous.   Not only does he call children horrible, degrading names in his books, but he sets up an adversarial parent-child relationship.

Interestingly, God calls children blessings in Psalm 127:3. I view children as little people in need of help, guidance, and discipline (teaching). When the focus is on cooperation instead of control, children cooperate. I’ve worked with some pretty difficult children and was able to get them to cooperate through positive discipline strategies such as modeling, child-proofing, validating feelings, fulfilling the child’s physical and emotional needs, setting realistic limits and boundaries, helping children comply, giving choices, and using natural and logical consequences with children. Children do better when we perceive and view them as God does.

We need to change our perceptions of all people–young and old, disabled, or any other differences.  We need to do our best to base our perception on fact.  Smaller humans are competent!

image

Tantrums Versus Meltdowns. Why I Choose To Call Them “Meltdowns.”

After writing and sharing this post, which made me feel vulnerable, I was very taken aback by a couple of uncompassionate responses by people I never thought would have such a reaction. They were mothers of children with Autism. They were quite upset that I had used the term “meltdown” to describe my loss of control. They had said that I had had a “tantrum” “over not getting my way.”

Needless to say, I was quite confused and bewildered by their responses. So were a number of other gentle parents. The argument these two moms tried to use was that only people with Autism are allowed to have meltdowns, and everyone else has tantrums and can control themselves.

I won’t get into how wrong it is to tell an adult who chose to share about her embarrassing episode in the hopes of reminding everyone that meltdowns happen to even mature adults that she had a “tantrum,” except to say that it is wrong.

I will explain that as an early childhood professional, I do have some knowledge of and experience with children with Autism and other sensory issues. These children can, in fact, have very intense and even violent meltdowns that can last for hours. Some of these meltdowns are triggered by sensory overload such as bright lights, too much noise, clothing that is uncomfortable, and having too many people nearby.  These meltdowns are totally uncontrollable. 

But, typical children have uncontrollable meltdowns too. A meltdown is when we lose total control over our emotions for whatever reason. Tantrums are the same thing. Only when most people hear the word “tantrum,” they picture a child trying to “manipulate” us in order to “get his/her own way.”  Even the moms complaining about my terminology said it was to “get my own way.”

In reality, when I lost control of my emotions that night, I had no thought of “getting my way.”  My thoughts were not coherent in that moment.  I was still grieving. I had just watched my husband and his sister bury their mom a month ago that night. I was dealing with my own grief. I just wanted to enjoy the rest of my time with my mom and her boyfriend before they left for home six hours away.  What I truly wanted was for my mom to live closer and for the grief I was experiencing to go away. I knew acting like a fool wouldn’t allow me to “get my way.”

That’s the thing. People witnessing a meltdown have no clue what is truly going on. They see a “bratty” child throwing a fit over “not getting what he/she wants.”  They look at the parents begrudgingly for not “controlling and spanking that brat.” They call it a “tantrum.”

What they don’t see is the child having a hard time. The child may be overtired, hungry, thirsty, getting sick, going through major transitions, being triggered by something sensory related, and/or trying to learn how to cope with a major, to him/her, disappointment. The brain goes haywire. He/She loses control. 

Yes, before a full blown meltdown, people can use coping skills. We can prevent some meltdowns by validating children’s feelings and giving them ways to express themselves as well as meeting needs.

But once anyone enters a full blown meltdown, it’s over until the brain allows them to calm down and regain control. The only appropriate response to anyone experiencing a meltdown is compassion and empathy.

The reason why I stopped using the term “tantrum” to describe children’s loss of emotional control is the negative connotation of the term. Anyone familiar with me and my work knows that I’m trying very hard to get society to see children in a positive light. To help everyone understand the development of young children. And for Christians to view and treat children as the blessings that they are. The term “meltdown” is more respectful.

I don’t care who you are, how old you are, if you have special needs or not, we all have meltdowns. Life gets hard. It will happen. Let’s not judge children or adults. Let’s assume there is always a deeper reason for the meltdown. And let’s not say that one group has “meltdowns” and the other group has “tantrums.”  Jesus tells us not to judge others. Besides, Jesus had a few meltdowns Himself in the Temple and in the Garden of Gethsame. 

May we treat all children and adults with compassion and respect!

image

God Cares About Our Hearts, NOT Our Appearances!

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Whether it’s a child’s behavior, an elderly person, or a person with a disability, too often we judge by appearances. We see an upset child and assume that it’s his/her “sinful nature” appearing. We see someone with a severe disability and assume they are mentally disabled and/or are afraid to interact with them as a “normal” person.  We see an elderly person and dismiss their wisdom and competence.

But God looks at hearts.

God sees that the child is simply having a hard time. He sees that the person with the severe disability is trying to serve Him in any capacity he/she can. He sees the elderly struggling to impart wisdom and love before their lives end.

Jesus tells us not to judge because when we judge others, we are usually totally wrong. God wants us to “love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

So, the next time we see a child having a hard time or a person with a disability or someone totally different from us, instead of judging or being afraid, let’s LOVE them as Jesus LOVES everyone.

image

Are Children Truly Selfish?

Many people, especially Christians, think that young children’s incapability to always share or to not be able to put themselves in other’s shoes or to need what they need is selfishness. They think this is children’s “flesh” and “sinful nature” taking over. It is not sin or selfishness at all.

It’s a developmental stage that young children go through. Only much older children and adults are truly able to be selfish. We have impulse control. We should have empathy. Children don’t. They’re learning.

Infants and toddlers are very aware of their parents’ emotions from birth and are affected by them, but this does not mean that infants and toddlers can empathize with the parents.
Young children from birth until somewhere around the age of four or five years are what Jean Piaget calls egocentric. Again, this is not due to their “sinful nature” and it does not mean that young children are evil. God designed children exactly how they are. There’s a reason He made young children egocentric, probably for survival in this harsh, sinful world.

As we teach children empathy by modeling it to them as well as pointing out how their behaviors–both positive and negative–affect others, children begin to learn how to be empathetic.  We need to teach them how to be gentle and respectful to others by being gentle and respectful to them.

Punishing them will always hinder their learning of selflessness.

Unfortunately, parents who use fear and punishment to make their children obey them are actually teaching their children to be selfish as the child is not thinking about doing something for another person but rather protecting him/herself from punishment. We should not be teaching our children to only do things to avoid punishment, as the Bible says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

image

I’ve dealt with many pro-spankers, and the way some of them dismiss the painful experiences a great deal of people have had with being hit by their parents is selfish.  The way pro-spankers automatically assume that their children will “survive” just because they feel they did is selfish.

In essence, spanking/hitting makes many selfish because it leads to worldly sorrow and a sense of self preservation instead of godly sorrow.

So, what is godly sorrow and worldly sorrow?

In 2 Corinthians 7:8-11, it states:

“Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while—yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.”

What the Apostle Paul is saying here is that godly sorrow makes us think beyond ourselves to how our actions have hurt or affected other people and our relationship with God. We look past whatever consequences our actions caused us and want to do everything in our power to repent and seek forgiveness from God and the person we have hurt. This is why Paul says that godly sorrow brings life as we seek to be forgiven.

On the other hand, worldly sorrow brings death according to what Paul says in this verse. Due to fear of punishment as well as guilt, people of all ages will focus on the consequences that are happening to them because of their actions rather than how they’ve hurt God and the other person. This is worldly sorrow. Being afraid of punishment and rejection causes worldly sorrow. Also, feeling so guilty and bad about oneself that one feels that he/she deserves whatever punishment he/she has coming to him/her leads to worldly sorrow.

We need to do our best to use discipline instead of punishment so that our children don’t become selfish people who believe that it is perfectly acceptable to inflict pain on others.

No, young children are not selfish, but we sure can be!

image

Born Sinful?

I believe the doctrine of original sin is man made like the doctrine of spanking is man made.

God created children to go through each developmental stage. Babies cry to communicate. Toddlers test boundaries and lack impulse control. Young children do not set out to sin until they are older.

God does not call children sinners. The way we view children is how they will behave. Many Christians seem to view children as “sinners” and “manipulative.” That’s Dobson’s view too as he calls them horrible degrading names in his books. This sets up an adversarial parent-child relationship.

Interestingly, God calls children blessings in Psalm 127:3. I view children as little people in need of help, guidance, and discipline (teaching).

When the focus is on cooperation instead of control, children cooperate. Children do better when we view them as God does. Young children are not capable of truly understanding sin. They even have a special knowledge of Who God is according to Matthew 25:11.

I do believe Jesus cried as a baby and screamed as a toddler because these are developmental behaviors. James 4:17 states, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” This can only apply to older children and adults who truly understand sin. “Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it” (Deuteronomy 1:39).

God clearly says young children do not know right from wrong. It’s up to us to gently teach and guide them through each developmental stage.

image

Why Gentle Christian Parents Don’t Focus on Sin

I was asked why gentle Christian parents and advocates don’t talk about sin much when it comes to children. The answer is because what most Christians believe is sin in children usually isn’t. A toddler saying, “no!” when asked to do something isn’t sin, it’s the child exploring independence and boundaries. A preschooler crying over not having something they really wanted is the child just having a hard time. Even biting, hitting, kicking, and cussing in young children is NOT sin. Young children needing food, love, comfort, room to play is not sin.

Sin is when we truly understand something is wrong and goes against God and we have total control over ourselves and can tap into God’s strength to resist, yet choose wholeheartedly to go against God, THAT is sin!!  Every child is different. Every child will sin like us. But, before 12-years-old, I don’t believe children truly sin. We slowly teach children about sin by disciplining without punishment. By providing them with appropriate behaviors. And, by teaching them about God.

Also, when we look for sin in children, it makes us hypersensitive to all “inappropriate behavior.” It makes us want to punish for perceived sinfulness. We look at children as “little sinners” rather than blessings as the Bible says they are. Jesus loves children and told us to be like them. When sin is the focus, we become proud. We become judges. We think more highly of ourselves than we should so we can “beat that sin right out of that child.”

In reality, we are WORSE sinners than older children. Jesus said to get the plank out of our own eyes before removing the speck out of our brother’s eye. This applies to children too! Sin is sooooooooo much more than a child having a meltdown. Childish behavior is NOT sin. Rejecting God is!  Hurting children is!  Let’s focus on teaching and guiding children instead of worrying what childish behavior is sin. Give children the tools to choose good over bad so when real sin comes their way, they can tap into God and make more righteous decisions over sinful ones.

image

When He (or in my case, She) Gets Old He Will Not Depart From It

“Train up a child in the way he should go,

Even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

Yesterday I learned just how true this is for me. I’ve always noticed it here and there with some of my actions and thoughts, but yesterday, it smacked me in the face.

 You see, it was discovered that a veterinarian we knew and had used had let things get way out of control and had lost her license in December of 2014 and was still practicing medicine with the animals in her home. Her clients were unaware of this. Then, this past weekend over 60 animals were removed from her home.

I’ll spare you the rest of the details as they are pretty gruesome. When my husband told me all this, I felt panic, anger, sadness, and confusion. And…I assumed the worst of this woman. I had trusted her with my fur babies from 2007-2009/2010, way before any of this, but I still had scary thoughts of what my cats may have witnessed or experienced while in her care.

My husband felt anger and was horrified initially, but was quickly able to move to having compassion for her based on what he knew of her when we used her. He didn’t think she was being malicious in any way and suspected an organic reason for her behavior such as mental illness or a brain tumor.

I, on the other hand, was slower to have compassion towards her. I wanted to believe she wasn’t some sadist vet. But, I assumed the worst of her. I thought she was horrible all along and we’d missed it. How could someone who loved animals so much treat them, operate on them, and keep them in deplorable conditions in her home?  My husband was under the impression that she had left them in her house in order to escape being caught by authorities, which made me even more upset. I cried on and off throughout the day that so many animals had suffered and even died in her care. I couldn’t believe I let her care for my sweet cats for a few years!

It wasn’t until last night that my husband’s suspicions were validated. The vet was not a sadist. She was honestly trying to help the animals. She had spent her whole savings to keep up practicing veterinary medicine. And she was living in these deplorable conditions with the animals. Mental illness is a part of this horrific situation.

I felt relief finding out that her motives were pure. I cried for her. I had been praying for her throughout the day yesterday, but was so angry at her. After the relief of finding out that she wasn’t trying to hurt any of the animals came the guilt of realizing just how wrong I had been for assuming the worst of her. I immediately asked God to forgive me which He did. Then I had to fight the lovely self loathing that I struggle with all the time, but especially struggle with when I mess up.

So, what makes me assume the worst of people?  I believe it’s the way I was trained as a child. No, my family did not purposely instill this in me. However, there were certain members of my family who would put on a facade to make themselves look better to outsiders than how they really were in private with me. I have had other people do this too. Sometimes I feel like I attract “fake” people.

Having to deal with this throughout my life has made me prone to go negative instead of positive when it comes to people, especially when bad things happen.

Children are constantly watching us even when we don’t think they are. Every little thing we do, say, or feel does not go unnoticed by our children.

Proverbs 22:6 is absolutely right in that how we are trained as children can be very difficult to undo as adults. BUT, thankfully, Proverbs 22:6 was never meant to be taken as a promise. We have the power in Christ to break free from the negative things by which we were trained. I know I will be working on not immediately assuming the worst when I am not aware of all the details of situations. I trust God will give me the grace to continuing on my journey to be more Christlike.

Please be intentional with your children as you help them grow and develop. Trust me, they are always watching!

image